The Prize!

The Prize!

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

For those who understand the nature of competition, the goal is to obtain a prize.  However, in Christ, we are not competing for a prize as mere mortals understand it. We are running a race to obtain the end promise-eternity in Heaven with Jesus. If we are competing for any other prize that will rust, fade, or tarnish, we may miss the opportunity for the true prize.

Professional athletes compete to win world recognition and rings and trophies for the team. In order to do that–they prepare by participating in grueling workouts, team practices and disciplining themselves to stay focused on the goal. And when they win national competitions, many on the winning team tell reporters–the next stop in their journey is Disneyland.

Musicians in high schools compete for medals and trophies. In order to win, they prepare by studying the music, practicing their instrument and disciplining themselves to focus on the end goal.

Writers compete for prizes in various genres and sometimes just for the sake of energizing creativity and stamina in staying focused in completing a project under deadline. In particular–the National November Writing Month is not about competing with others necessarily, and there is usually a great deal of support from other participants to encourage one to keep going to write that 50 thousand words in 30 days. I’ve entered the competition for three years and always finished under 15 days. The win–though rewarding–did not garner me anything other than bragging rights and a certificate. And so this year, I’m not writing because I have already won–the knowledge that I could do it.

Unfortunately, in the same competition–some people start out with projects they have started years before and in essence–they’re cheating themselves because their participation and possible completion has been rigged with the early start. So even if they complete the goal–it’s not really a win.

That’s how I view our recent election–a rigged election for a win is not really a victory–and the evidence of such is so apparent that even a blind person could see it. But until we change how we do business, we are stuck with the possibility of more rigging–through deliberate lying and undermining–trying to win by any means. But winning an election is not the prize–it is a responsibility and a commitment to govern all people–with equity and justice for all. If this role is not taken seriously, then democracy begins to unravel and we become vulnerable to all the predators who seek to destroy. For their goal–is to control.

Though there are some who say we simply have to accept the status quo, I believe that change begins with action and until there is action, there is no change. So, I’m going to use the same discipline exercised in competing for a prize, to energize others to see change that benefits all–starting now, so that we have a leader who knows and understands the need for preparation in order to govern and lead. 

Write It Down!

Write It Down!

I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Then the LORD answered me and said:

“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:1-5 NKJV

The Lord is yet revealing Himself to others–just like He did with the prophets of old. If we learn to receive, hear and listen, we might be surprised at what we are told.

People are still creating bucket lists–those desires they wish to achieve before they die or at least by a specific time in their lives. A goal is always a good thing, especially when the goal is for the good of others more than just self. And while having a goal is good, few goals are ever achieved without a plan to get there.

The plan–the step-by-step approach or strategy to get to the finish line, must be doable and must lead in the direction in which a person wants to go. Not having a plan, often leads to people doing random acts–that lead nowhere and then they wonder why they have not moved closer to their goal.

Perhaps the easiest way to reach goals is to have several short-term goals that lead to the larger goal–to complete the big picture.

For instance–if a student desires to improve grades and obtain a specific grade-point-average, they might want to start with a targeted study plan. For some that goal may include specific hours dedicated to study and preparing for daily class work and testing. This goal would include working on smaller portions of information for a longer time period (one segment 15 minutes a night), rather than trying to cram a great deal of information into an overnight, stress-filled approach.

If a person has a desire to be used in ministry, by God–the first step would be to develop a right relationship with Him and then to get into His Word and study–researching all that is unknown or not clearly understood. Reaching this particular goal takes time and there are no short cuts although some have attempted to circumvent the obvious. We must study to show ourselves approved unto God–willing to work to understand His Word so we might rightly–present it to others. Some have claimed a calling upon their lives by God and presented themselves to a local church leader and that leader has set them up to fail by simply allowing them to present a “trial sermon”and then giving them leeway (without sufficient evidence of study or relationship) to run and misrepresent the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

If there is anything we want to achieve and God has given us the vision, we need to write it down, along with the plan to get there–step-by-step. When the vision is truly from God, it will be attained and nothing any man or woman attempts to do to hinder it, will matter. God’s plans will always prevail over anything we may plan to do–that is not of or from Him.

So if God has given you a vision–write it down and seek His wisdom to map out the plans to achieve and no matter–stick with the plan–inching your way, if necessary, to cross that finish line–according to His timetable. Remember–“the race is given to the strong or the swift, but the one who endures to the end.”

Pressing On!

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV).

When our end is near, our insight into the mysteries of life, are expressed with such clarity that it amazes and stuns people. Our lives should not be about obtaining things, but obtaining the goals in our hearts that God placed there, for the benefit of many. Paul knew it was time was just about up, but he also knew he could not hold onto all those things that he “had done” (not of Christ), but he looked forward to doing what God wanted him to do.

With this clarity, expressed by Paul, we can all take lessons about life. There are some things we must let go. Since we cannot go back in time and change anything, we must look forward to doing better so we will have no reason to regret anything. Even though Paul had persecuted the early Church, he did so out of ignorance and arrogance--ignorance of Jesus Christ and arrogance out his status and position with the religious leaders of The Law.

If we’re willing to see ourselves truthfully, we’d have to admit that most of what we’ve done in the past–we did out of ignorance and arrogance–ignorance because we simply did not know and arrogance because we didn’t want to listen to those who knew–Truth.

Let’s not be ignorant or arrogant any longer. Let’s look forward to learning something new every day and listening to those we respect who have demonstrated living their lives with the wisdom of God leading them. We don’t know everything there is to know so there is room in our minds and hearts to receive wisdom and knowledge–especially from God–so we might be helpers of one another. Pressing on–in spite of the difficulties we face–will be our testimony to encourage others.

Don’t get angry or depressed about making wrong decisions–seek The Lord and hear and obey and watch Him bless this year like never before in your lives.

Have a wonderfully, blessed New Year in 2015!

Preparation Matters!

“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:3 NLT).

In the verse preceding this one, Jesus tells His disciples that there is more than enough room in His Father’s house for everyone and He is going to prepare a place for us. Then, He says, He’ll come back for us when everything is ready so we can be with Him, forever.

Every time I read scripture, I see more–gain greater insight into the words and enhance my comprehension–for the practical aspect of what is said.

“When everything is ready” means it is not already prepared for us and since we are still here; our mansions (rooms, homes) are still not ready. Why?

Preparation time is never wasted time. When we love people and invite them into our homes, we want them to be comfortable. Well, at least most of us do. On a practical level, we want to make sure that we have sufficient room, food, and an environment that will entice them to stay and know they are welcomed. That’s for the visitors. How much preparation is made to bring home the new-born baby?

Now, we must consider much more in preparing to bring the baby home (again, most of us). Babies needs are much greater and now we must consider how to best care for the baby, so positioning of everything is important–where the crib goes, the changing table, convenience of formula, diapers, clothes, everything! It is important to know where everything is going to be before we need it!

How much time have we spent preparing for–anything in life? For school, for careers, for marriages, for living a Godly life? The lack of preparation for anything is a guarantee for failure in everything. Success does not come by osmosis–it requires planning–goal-setting, strategy-making plans for every level or step we take. Within the planning–we organize our thoughts and our steps and then implement. Sometimes, we may have to make adjustments along the way, but this is easily accomplished when we keep our eyes on the goal. When we are not organized–no order exists–and chaos reigns.

It’s not too late to rethink where we are, where we’re going and make the necessary preparations to get there so when we do get there, we can sit back and enjoy! That’s for practical living. For the things of God--Prepare hearts to receive the Good News, Trust in the Lord, Stay in The Word, Obey His Word, and Accept the invitation to His Home.

Don’t let the delay in His return concern you–He’s still getting things ready for us! And when they are ready, He’s coming back to get escort us home!

Having A Goal!

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,” (Colossians 2:2 NIV)

How thoughtful of Paul! In sending this letter to the church at Colosse, he reminded them of his goal–to encourage and to unite in love so they would be in position to receive a clearer knowledge of God.

Like so many people who have a heart for God’s people, Paul is reminding them that should not be fooled by those who would teach false doctrine or bind them to human rules and policies–forsaking the opportunity to allow Holy Spirit to rule in their lives.

That was then–who is trying to encourage hearts and unite people in love, reminding them of God’s love for them and the many blessings He has for them, now? Think about what is heard in churches, on television, on the radio, and seen on the Internet! Is there an encouraging word to comfort hearts coming from those in “positions of authority” or is it all smoke and mirrors–the great pretenders, who are in charge?

Those to whom God has spoken will only speak those things that God has said and those things can be confirmed in His Word. Whenever someone–no matter who it is–attempts to change God’s Word to promote their own agenda, know that their goal is to enslave others in opposition of The Word. Did you not know that Satan has a goal? Satan’s goal is to steal your joy, kill your spirit and destroy all that God loves. Don’ t be a willing participant by helping him to achieve his goals.

Instead, get into the Word, know what God has said pertaining you. Develop a right relationship with God so He can instruct, correct, and guide you into all truths! God has a goal and it is found throughout the Word, but clearly expressed in Jeremiah 29:11.”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Do you have a goal? “If you fail to plan a course of success, you plan to fail and will not achieve anything worthwhile.”